Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hard Eucharisteo

What is your hard eucharisteo? I'm sure it is different then mine. And in the years to come harder ones will come my way. The fact is we live in a sin-cursed world and there will be pain. It affects us all differently but if does affect everyone. We must realize that it will come, that it will in fact hit us when we least expect it. The thing to remember is that when it comes God is still good, He is still there, and He knows.

Questions asked from those young ones sitting in a circle.... they look to me for the answers. One can never prepare for the hard questions that come from ones so young. "Why... why does Jesus ask, as He prays alone in the garden, if there is any other way? Doesn't He, being fully God, already know the answer."

I let out a chuckle, oh to grasp the incarnation, if only that was possible. But it is a good question.

Why did He ask? Why did He want another way? Why did He not do it another way? Why the cross?  Is it because He knew that we would need to see the hands nail-scarred? Is it because we need to know that He knows?

There is comfort in knowing that the hands that cup my face during the hard eucharisteo understand the pain. Those "nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, 'I know. I know.' "

He knows, and He does not ignore our pain, and we don't have to pretend that it doesn't hurt. And the honest words of Ann ring true to my heart because we can be honest about our feelings towards the Almighty, He can handle our anger, He can handle our hurt, and we don't offend Him by being honest, and He doesn't need protection from our anguish.
"I won't shield God from my anguish by claiming He's not involved in the ache of this world and Satan prowls but he's a lion on a leash and the God who govern all can be be shouted at when I bruise, and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief and I can moan deep that He did this - and He did."
 And then I read "Sometimes we need time to answer the hard eucharisteo." And my heart stops and my surroundings fade because I needed to hear that. For weeks I feel defeated because the battle has raged for months and it feels like it will never end and I wonder what is wrong with me. I keep telling people I need time and the looks I get make me feel dirty, because shouldn't I be able to move on quicker then this. I've never been stuck like this before and the words I hear are words that sting, and they seem to say that this struggle is small and one day I'll look back and laugh because I shouldn't have fought so hard, and I let out a laugh to smooth out the moment but inside I'm feeling ripped apart because it is hard and they don't understand because they haven't struggled there.

But I know what the real struggle is and it's that He wants me empty and it's that process of emptying that hurts because in the emptiness there is darkness. And it's only in the darkness that we find the light. And He knows because He went there... to the ultimate darkness... the cross. But it is out of that darkness that the world found life...... "And there is no other way." Oh but I want there to be another way. 

But there's not and I must learn to accept it and I must let it come. Because only the "emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy."

And she ends the chapter with words that I must cling to....
"The good news that all those living in the land of shadow of death have been birthed into new life, that the transfiguration of a suffering world has already begun. That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart - and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty."

* I wrote about chapter 4 here
* all quotes are from Ann Voskamsp's book One Thousand Gifts chapter 5

Monday, March 28, 2011

The hurry leaves us empty

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
J. R. R. Tolkien
The quote that begins chapter 4 brings back to mind a recent conversation with a dear friend who lives far away. Normally we spend days, even weeks playing phone tag and in recent months the times we have caught one another have been for just a few minutes. Why.... because life is busy and I fail time after time to slow down and just live.

But finally the day came when our schedules finally aligned and a few hours were found to truly catch up and oh how good it was for my soul. She is such a dear friend and one whom God knew that I needed in my life. Sometimes we just need a friend who is not connected to our everyday journeys, one who can offer fresh perspective because she doesn't see the day to day. And sometimes it's good to just hear yourself say your thoughts out loud.

We talked about life and about our struggles. And a point was made that mid-twenties is just a weird place to be. She listened and I listened and we both identified with not knowing the future and realizing that what we wanted three years ago wasn't where we were and that there is nothing wrong with that.

Part of the issue is the society we live in.... everyone is always asking about the next season... when do you plan on getting married, when do you plan on having kids, when are you having another kid, when are you going to stop having kids, when are you going to retire, when, when, when.... and it never stops.

We live for what's next.... and we hurry through life and then wonder why we were are left empty.
"Whatever the pace, time will keep it and there's no out running it, only speeding it up and pounding the feet harder; the minutes pound faster too. Race for more and you'll snag on time and leak empty. The longer I keep running, the longer the gash, and I drain, bleed away. 
Hurry always empties a soul."
Ann has figured out the problem.

But she stirs my soul when she reminds that it is God who gives us time, yet it seems we have so little time to give Him.

And why do we hurry?? "Maybe it is the hurt that drives us on? For all our frenzied running seemingly toward something, could it be that we are in fact fleeing - desperate to escape pain that pursues?" And yes maybe, maybe Ann you are right. It makes sense, in a rather illogical way, to escape the hurt we hurry through life so we don't have to face it. But really all we do is exhaust ourselves because running from the pain doesn't make it go away.

Can we slow it down? Ann seems to suggest that we can. She quotes a favorite, a godly woman who writes so beautifully... "Wherever you are, be all there." And the scripture says to give thanks in all things, and Ann suggests that the problem isn't that we don't have enough time but that we don't have enough thanksgiving. Eucharisteo living... joy-filled living.

We can give thanks in all things, because He is in all things and He is all powerful, always in control. And "life is not an emergency. Life is eucharisteo." And the times we think are cause for emergency, for hurry, are actually times to stop, to acknowledge Him. to trust Him.

And that's what this counting thing is all about. It's not just another list to create, not another thing to check off... no it's to change a habit. A habit that has you racing through life, forgetting, missing the beauty that is all around. Missing the One who gives us every second.



Tulips bright and colorful

A clean flower bed, ready for planting

A day of dirt digging and soul filling with a best friend

A satisfied feeling after a day of hard work in the sun

Fence building

Tearing away weeds as tall as trees

An empty fence line fully visible

Fields ready for new seed

A chance to catch up with a faraway friend

* I wrote about chapter 3 here
* All quotes are from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand gifts chapter 4

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Old habits die hard

The last time I mentioned Ann's book I wrote about joy, eucharisteo, and how it is not a feeling, not an emotional mountain that is to be climbed. Well the next chapter, chapter 3, says that eucharisteo has to be learned. "And learning requires practice-- sometimes even mind-numbing practice..... practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation."

And it makes sense... and I let out a sigh of relief. Maybe I'm not the only one who struggles with developing good habits.  Maybe I'm not the only one who trudges on in what seems like mind-numbing practice. And I love how she admits that practice is hard because it is yet we tell ourselves it is easy and we tell each other that it is easy and we believe the lie that it should be easy.

But life isn't easy and it's better to admit that it's hard instead of pretending that it is easy. We never quit learning so we will never quit practicing and it will never get easier. An old habit will go away and a new one will form only to reveal another new old habit that must be nailed out. And Ann offers a strategy that seems to make sense.
"Life changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time."
And sometimes it takes a lot of nails... and a lot of time. So I'm not alone, and I am not the only one who clings hard to old habits. The key is to keep hammering... and the nails don't have to be big.

A life full of joy... full of thanksgiving requires fighting. The saying that old habits die hard is very true and when you add the spiritual battle ,your flesh fighting your spirit, those old habits are even harder to kill.The last thing the enemy wants is for Christians to be thankful. When you begin the journey towards a thankful life, a life of living eucharisteo, it will get harder before it gets easier.

As the chapter ends the words get harder to read... because Ann isn't interested in making you comfortable... she wants you to change. The last paragraph is a hard one and one I wrote about here because it's not an easy paragraph to read but it needs to be heard.

I love that Ann doesn't back down and that her words, while not coated with sugar, are written with so much grace.

* I wrote about chapter 2 here
* all quotes come from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand gifts Chapter 3.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stumbling but never falling

The battle rages on and I hear of a brother who, like me, is fighting that hard fight of wanting what you can't have.

Wanting what you know won't fulfill but craving it still. 

The words that I hear others say don't sit well... and I realize how quickly we forget just how hard the battle is when we aren't fighting it.

A text is sent to that brother and he, like me admits that he is living the no and admits that he knows better. Yet that flesh rages hard and he is drawn to the dark.

I don't give him a lecture, like I'm sure everyone else does, after all who am I to lecture a rebel.

Instead I let him know that he is not alone is his fight... that all of us have been there, and will be there.

Rebellion manifest itself differently in each of us but essentially it is the same battle.... to want what we can't have.... to believe a lie that He withholds good from us... and that we are better off without Him. And from the outside it sounds ridiculous, after all who are we to think that the Almighty doesn't know better, and who are we that we deserve any good.

But when the flesh rages our minds are corrupted, lies take root, and they impair any rational thinking.

It is so unlike me to not have advice to give.... to not know the answer.... but maybe that is where He wants me. To realize that I don't have any answers, that it's not my place to have the answers, and as desperate as I am for answers there aren't any. And that maybe the place He wants me at is at a stand still... to realize that my life is nothing, that I cannot exist without Him.

So I end the conversation with a brother with no sound advice... no words of wisdom on how to get back on his feet.... but I reminded him that he is loved.... and that he is wanted. And there is one thing I know and that is that running doesn't work.... it is far better to fight, even if it means fighting against the very force that gives you breath. And I tell him to come back to us and to show his face... but he says he doesn't want to be fake, to pretend that everything is alright when what he did last night was so wrong.

Isn't that what the enemy wants... for us to think that what we did last night was worse then what our friends did last night, and that if we show our face to them that they will see through the facade and see the selfishness and ugliness that really makes up who we are?

We forget that the blood didn't just wash away our past but it washes away our future.... that never again are we seen as ugly.... no matter what we did last night. Once we are covered we are covered, and nothing we can do will ever change that.

We forget that real living means living the yes... even when we feel dirty. After all everyone of us did something last night that we shouldn't have. We all struggle, we all mess up, we are all sinners.

And even now as I sit her and write this He reminds me that we all struggle. The phone vibrates and an email is received.... a verse sent to my inbox at just the right moment.
Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:24
Yes we will stumble, we will fail, we will feel defeated. But we will never fall. We will never be cast away from the One who loves. He holds our hand. Even when we stumble, even when we pull away, He holds on tight. There is no way to escape Him, no words can make Him loosen His grip..... and I sure am thankful for that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seek and you will find

I love how God has placed this book in my life at just the right time.  The words in chapter 2 are not ones that I want to hear hear.... especially when I am fighting.... when I want to just sit and settle.

Ann seems to know my heart condition.... that feeling as if I am the walking dead. You know what I'm talking about. The times when we just go through the motions.... the hollow, the shallow, the lifeless motions of existing. She points out that thing I do.... self-protecting by self-distracting. The point where we lose our capacity to feel anything.

Then the paragraph is read that reminds my heart what my head already knows.... "that joy is not an "exotic location of an emotional mountain peak experience." Joy is a choice..... not a feeling.... and it's something that God expects from His children.

It only gets worse...... I read that sentence..... the one that makes me wrinkle my nose up.... the one that makes me wish I had never picked up this book.

"Eucharisteo (thanksgiving) always PRECEDES the miracle"

Oh Ann.... why did you have to write that out for my eyes to see?????

She continues... "Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our YES! to His grace."

Sigh..... I really did already know that.... after all isn't that what this fighting is all about?? I'm not thankful for what He has given me because I don't want to accept it. I'm still shaking my head no. I don't want to give thanks because I'm not yet ready to accept this place I am at.

But if Ann's words are true... and I am sure they are.... the miracle will not happen until my spirit is thankful. The only way to accept this place is to find the good.... find the things to be thankful for.... to search for them. And in searching for the good am I not really searching for Him.... for His fingerprints? And I know that if I will just look then I will find.

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 
Luke 11:9

* I wrote about chapter 1 here
All quotes come from chapter 2 of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand gifts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dayspring review

Awhile back as I was perusing around the lovely Dayspring site I came across their Life collection and it was love-at-first-sight : )

For Christmas this year my sister got me this lovely pitcher.... which is perfect for holding sweet tea.

 And then for my birthday my sweet mom got me this platter....

So you can imagine how excited I was when one day I came home and this lovely plate setting was on my doorstep.

I'm pretty sure that my favorite thing about this collection is the words.... lots and lots of words :-o and you guys know how I LOVE me some words!!!

As I opened the box each it was like Christmas in March!!  Set before me were 4 boxes each holding a different plate. The first plate is full of bright colors which makes me happy every time I look at them.

 The verse in the middle is John 10:10 I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.

The second plate is probably my favorite because red is my favorite color and its paired with black which looks fantastic with red.... almost as fantastic as blue looks with red : )

Don't you just love the flowers and leaves in the middle... and the script is just gorgeous.

The next plate is a lovely black and white plate that has the word life written in all different languages!!! The platter above also has the word life written all over it in different languages and it is one of my favorite things about this collection. I think it really sets it apart from other collections.

The last plate and the one that sits on top is this cute and striped plate that has the word life in the middle. I love the simplicity of the plate.

I really love this collection and have high hopes of collecting more of the place settings so that one day in my own home it can fill that lovely china cabinet that once belonged to my great grandma.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Live the yes

I read Ann's book and watch the chapter videos and listen to her pour out her heart. She asks"have you ever felt: that He didn't answer a prayer the way you thought it should of been answered.... wounded by Him..... that He wasn't there when you thought He would be (or rather not in the way you thought He should of been)??" and I shout yes to everyone of them.

She doesn't stop there. Ann keeps going... keeps prodding.... keeps convicting. How do I respond to Him in these situations? Do I hold His hand and keep walking or do I stop and shake my head no?

Do the words that come out of my mouth match up to the path my feet trod? Do I whisper yes, only to live the no?

In the first chapter of her book Ann boldly announces the great deceiver's lie, "It's the cornerstone of his movement. That God withholds good from His children, that God does not genuinely, fully, love us."

A few more paragraphs and I read this, "Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other." And I cringe.... because isn't that what this fight is all about? Isn't the whole reason for these feeling that are raging through me because I want, I crave something different then what He has set before me?

So the question I now ask myself is do I really want joy? Because if I do then it is up to me to change. He is there... always there.... all I have to do is live the yes.

The hard part of coming back to Him is that we... I think that to come back I need to superglue the pieces together before approaching His throne. I forget that He doesn't ask for us to come to Him whole.... in fact He requires us to come to Him broken, for only He can make us whole.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The fight

The day came.... I knew it would... but I had wished it wouldn't.

I desperately wanted to run.... but I can't, because of all the things I am, a runner is not one of them.

However I am a fighter. A stubborn and rebellious fighter who does not back down easily.

I looked her in the eyes, I cannot hide from her. She sees my jaw rigorously set and those fists clenched tight. I get ready to fight, to defend. But she doesn't suit up, refuses to fight, because she knows that it would do no good. She simply asks one question..... Why?

Tears fill my eyes because I cannot answer. She knows, I know she knows yet the words stay inside.

Because locking them up and keeping them in keeps me from getting hurt..... right???

If I don't feel, if I don't think, if I stuff it all away then I don't have to deal with the hurt... with the pain.

and i don't want to hurt anymore

I want to do things my way.... because my way won't hurt..... at least that's the lie I have been living.

I want to run.... really..... I really want to run. I want to leave this all behind and do life a different way. I even told Him to go away.... and I meant it.

The Father hears His daughter's cries and they break His heart.... I know yet still I let the words come out.

I have desperately tried to pry His hands away. I screamed and yelled, begging Him to just let me go. I dug in my nails and watched Him bleed, yet He still hung on. Tears streaming down His face but His arms never relented.

Later that evening she asks if I'm okay... if what she said made me mad at her? Yes, it did make me mad, but I tell her no, because really I'm not mad at her.... I'm mad at myself. It is I that went down this path, it is I that has chosen to believe the lies.

The long drive home is not a quiet one. A favorite band's new album is blaring over the speakers, lyrics washing over because these guys write about feelings and how they control us, how they deceive us, and they are uncomfortably  honest.

And as the tears roll down I hear their words, and yes I feel abandoned, I feel forgotten but it was I that tried to live without. I suffocated myself. And yes the words buried beneath describe me, I'm being buried by me... my own selfishness is desperately trying to choke the life out of me. I tell myself to run yet there is something that keeps my feet locked. Of all the thoughts that course through my brain I know that I cannot run from Him. I may not like what He says, I may not like the direction, the way this path makes me feel, but I know that I do not exist without Him.

As I got up to leave she asked if I was going to run... she knows I want to.
I shook my head.... no, I'm not going to run, because I am a fighter.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


So much to share. I am currently reading Ann's book and my fav band released a new cd so be prepared for a lot of Ann Voskamp quotes and many songs written by Red:-)

Other then that there is not much to report. The roomie and I are building fences and tearing up pastures to be reseeded, and in between trying to keep the horses in training as show season is quickly approaching so I am exhausted!!!!

I went to winter jam last night and had a blast!! Although they only let Red and Crowder play 4 songs so it felt like a tease:-( Red was AMAZING!!!! Here's a little secret you might not have known about me...... I love hardcore(but only Red). 

Crowder was a much needed worship time. I wish they could of played all night. I love it when your worshiping and you feel as though your body is constraining your feelings and you just wish you could go up to heaven and stay worshiping at His throne forever:-) Heaven is going to be FANTASTIC!!!!!

Well that's all.... just wanted to jump on for a quick minute:-) Hopefully tomorrow I will get a chance to get on here and actually post on a Monday:-0